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Cuna Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Cuna alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Cuna orthography we have used on our site, as well as some alternate spellings that you may find in other books and websites.

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Cuna Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Cuna pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
e    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gate.
i    i Like the i in police.
o    o Like the o in note.
u    u Like the u in flute.

Cuna Nasal Vowels

Nasal vowels don't exist in English, but you may be familiar with them from French (or from hearing people speak English with a French accent.) They are pronounced just like oral ("regular") vowels, only using your nose as well as your mouth. To English speakers, the Kuna pronunciation of a nasal vowel often sounds like a vowel with a half-pronounced "n" at the end of it. You can hear examples of nasal vowels at the end of the French words "bon" and "Jean," or in the middle of the word "Français."

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
ã   ã
 
ĩ   ĩ
õ   õ
ũ   ũ

Cuna Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Cuna pronunciation:
ch  č  t Like ch in chair.
h  j  h Like h in hay.
k  c, qu  k Like the k in kiss.
kw  qu  kw Similar to the qu in queen.
l    l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
p    p Like p in pin.
rr  r  r Like the rolling rr in Spanish perro.
s    s Like s in sun.
t    t Like the t in tell.
w  hu  w Like w in way.
y    j Like y in yes.

Cuna Double Consonants

When a Cuna word is spelled with double consonants, like atinne (tie) or attale (five), the consonant must be pronounced with double length. For an English speaker, the easiest way to pronounce a consonant with double length is to imagine a word break between the two consonants. The n sounds in "fun night" are pronounced like the ones in atinne, and the t sounds in "night time" are pronounced like the ones in attale.

Cuna Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Kuna words
   Macro-Chibchan language family

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